As UK boards seek to improve the way they conduct their activities, the board portal market is growing rapidly. Research from Azoth Analytics anticipates that the board portal market will increase in size by a CAGR of almost 45% from 2018-2021 as adoption expands out from the traditional stronghold of the financial sector into healthcare, education, IT services and beyond. At the same time, the global governance, risk and compliance (GRC) software market is set to hit $64.6 billion by 2025, indicating an increasing demand for solutions that offer greater control and visibility over corporate compliance. So what’s driving this booming market growth? Let’s take a look at three key challenges faced by today’s businesses and how board portals, along with governance, risk and compliance software, are helping to solve them.
A drive for efficiency and the paperless boardroom
In today’s fast-paced business environment, senior executives face ever-increasing demands on their time. Board directors and Company Secretaries are notoriously time-poor, so finding ways to improve efficiency and reduce workload is a priority.
For directors, board portals allow them to use their time better by ensuring that they have 24/7 access to board information, from meeting minutes to board packs, on whichever device they prefer to use. This means that directors can set their own schedule for reviewing key documents and preparing for meetings, fitting it in around their other commitments. This ease of use improves director engagement, helping them to be more informed and to better discharge their duties from a position of knowledge.
For Company Secretaries and administrative personnel, board portal software reduces the administrative burden by dramatically simplifying the process of preparing board books and board meeting agendas. Information can be easily drawn from multiple sources to create a digital board book quickly, while meeting logistics and calendars are conveniently managed in a central location. Meeting minutes software reduces the administration associated with board meetings by automatically pulling through agenda items and associated documents so that meeting minutes can be drafted quickly and accurately.
Board portals also simplify the process of administering director and officer questionnaires by automating distribution and tracking of completion and submission rates. This streamlines the process for administrators and also enables easy analysis and reporting on survey results, as there’s no need to collate or input survey data.
A further advantage of deploying a board portal is the reduction, or elimination, of paper from board processes. For many organisations, this is a key objective for environmental, financial and security reasons. A board portal changes the dynamic from “print and distribute,” which typically sees board packs stretching to hundreds of pages printed, copied and sent to directors via costly courier services, to “distribute and print only if absolutely necessary.” This not only costs far less and saves paper, but also reduces the possibility of hard copy documents falling into the wrong hands.
Security concerns promote digital adoption
Speaking of security, it’s one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today and a key factor driving the adoption of online board solutions. High-profile data breaches have inflicted major reputational and financial damage on organisations, while the implementation of the GDPR has put immense pressure on companies to ensure that data protection is up to scratch throughout the enterprise. The cyber-threat environment continues to evolve and the board of directors is a seductive target for cybercriminals looking to gain illicit access to privileged information, or a foothold into the corporate network.
It’s therefore ironic that communications between board members, which are some of the most sensitive in any business, often take place outside the company’s secure network. Confidential board materials and director conversations that are shared via personal email pose an obvious security risk, and one that many organisations are turning to board portals to address. By using a cloud-based portal, companies ensure that sensitive materials can only be accessed by individual directors and authorised personnel. Portals use robust encryption and cybersecurity that meets or exceeds the level of security on the corporate network, meaning that companies can meet their data protection obligations with confidence.
Another valuable feature of board portals is secure messaging that allows directors to exchange confidential messages away from public networks. Keeping these communications within the portal reduces the risk of accidental leaks and encourages collaboration between directors outside of the board meeting schedule.
Risk and regulation energises demand for technology-driven solutions
The regulatory environment continues to grow in complexity, while the penalties for failure in corporate governance and compliance are increasing. Understanding and governing risk is one of the top priorities for European boards as they seek to avoid the reputational and financial damage associated with a breach. Companies need to keep tight control and visibility of compliance performance, and this is driving demand for governance, risk and compliance software that offers a board’s-eye view.
Large, complex businesses with multiple subsidiaries often find that compliance activity becomes siloed into individual departments or business units, which can result in duplicated activity and confusion over metrics and reporting. Enterprise governance software enables clear reporting that delivers valuable intelligence to the board. With a single source for entity management, processes can be automated so that it is easier for organisations to remain compliant with local legislation and minimise the risks of slipping into non-compliance. Organisations can interrogate real-time data to carry out robust audits and to gain critical insights.
While strong governance is important for any organisation, businesses in highly regulated sectors such as finance, healthcare and automotive are leading the demand for a technology-driven approach to monitoring governance, risk and compliance. Providers are responding by honing their expertise in these industry verticals in order to solve the challenges they face.
The adoption of board portals creates an intuitive, professional governance environment in which the board can conduct its business efficiently, securely and with full visibility of governance, risk and compliance. Deploying board governance software offers significant benefits for the board of directors, board support personnel and the organisation as a whole. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the board portal market is enjoying unprecedented growth and will likely continue to flourish in the coming years.
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